Like millions of other Americans on Sunday night, we watched the Super Bowl with the Broncos vs. the Panthers. We look forward to great food and entertainment on festive occasions like this. This year’s menu included shrimp and grits with a queso & sausage dip appetizer. A few delicious beverages quenched the thirst and rounded out a casual evening.
For many years, we’ve watched the live broadcast of the Super Bowl on both cable and satellite networks. The past two years, we’ve also streamed the live broadcast over-the-top (OTT) via alternative options on the web. We like to watch them side by side to note the performance and quality differences. In the past, there have been significant quality differences. Today, the quality has improved a lot; especially for mobile application resolution. While quality has improved, most viewers are willing to put up with some issues as long as they have access to viewable content on the go. As viewers, we’ve noticed OTT quality improving and accelerating competition for traditional video viewers.
This year, I set up viewing from DirecTV, CBSAllAccess, and Periscope.tv on Charter broadband. DirecTV was viewed on the flat screen TV representing a satellite operator for pay TV. CBSAllAccess was viewed on a laptop representing a direct-to-consumer offering from a leading broadcaster via OTT. Periscope.tv was viewed on an iPad representing a uniquely different source of live video from individuals sharing their recordings via OTT.
Setting up and viewing the game on DirecTV involved the traditional process of pulling up the guide using the remote and tuning to the right channel, which happened to be the CBS network. The viewing experience was high quality and without any issues.
Setting up and viewing the game on CBSAllAccess was also pretty simple; loading the CBS app on the iPad or the website on the laptop and selecting the “Watch Live on CBSSports.com” button. The game loaded as expected and displayed in high quality without issues the whole game. The only real difference noticed was the delay in the CBS OTT broadcast of approximately 30 seconds. The network was reportedly working on resolving the known delays the week before the game. It was actually nice in a side-by-side setup to have a built-in replay option. If we missed it on the big screen we could see it shortly on the laptop.
Setting up and viewing the game on Periscope.tv was a little more challenging. The iPad app was easy to load from the App Store. Finding a quality broadcast was the biggest challenge. There were several selections listed that were either closed out or showing party-goers rather than the game. Thanks to Mr. Graham for dedicating the broadcast to the game. Periscope is a nice social platform to share experiences with an active dialog. Although, the text messages and icons get in the way of the broadcast. We noticed a few-second lag in the broadcast but it was hard to tell exactly how much due to the vantage point in the stands.
As a Charter broadband customer, we did check out the Spectrum app to see if TV viewing was available but unfortunately all TV viewing requires subscription to video services. Which was as expected but thought we’d check it out anyway.
The OTT options worked well on the representative mobile devices. Having the ability to view live broadcasts on mobile devices is becoming the norm. There is still a difference in quality, however, the differences are mostly in delays and the overall experience. The trade-offs are tolerated more when viewers are on the go and happy to be able to catch the broadcast. Quality is also getting better across the board. Can’t wait for what’s in store next year!